Michigan farm industry resists new manure regulations
June 23, 2020 by Manure Manager
Michigan farm groups are appealing a restriction on winter manure application that came into effect on April 1, 2020. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) adopted the restriction to reduce nutrient runoff and water pollution, but a coalition of farming industry groups, individual farmers and the Michigan Farm Bureau argue the measures go too far.
The new regulation was drafted after extensive negotiations with industry groups, environmentalists and others, and applies to 260 of the state’s largest livestock operations, also known as concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFO).
In the May 26 petition to the Michigan Office of Administrative Appeals, the farming coalition argued that the manure spreading restriction and other limits in the new permit “have a tenuous relation to water quality” and will harm food production in Michigan. They believe the permit places an undue burden on farmers by reducing the amount of land they can farm, and when and how they farm it.
The timeline for the appeal is expected to take well into 2021. As part of the administrative process, the coalition is requesting an injunction to prevent farmers from having to comply with the conditions.
Michigan environmental groups are irked by the appeal, as they feel the new regulation could be more stringent, providing a complete ban on manure application in January, February and March.
Avoiding manure application in winter or before major precipitation events is considered a best management practice (BMP) by a large majority of those who specialize in manure, including University of Minnesota Extension staff and Christine Brown of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), known on Twitter as “@manuregirl.”
There are exceptions to the regulation: if snow and frost are below certain levels, the manure can be incorporated immediately, and if regulators are provided with advanced notice, manure can be applied to fields between the beginning of January and the end of March.
In other words, if the risks of runoff are low and management practices that will further reduce the risks are used, manure can be applied.